View from Oban Bothy

View from Oban Bothy
Showing posts with label Tally Ho!. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tally Ho!. Show all posts

Monday, 18 December 2017

The Championship, Saturday 16th Dec 2017

The official, complete, honest, unexaggerated and totally truthful report of the Club Championship.              With added photographs.


The start time had been brought forward to 2 o’clock for our annual Championship from the Boars Head at Higher Poynton. So we turned up in good time with the exception of a couple who had missed the change of time.

The cloud was low and the temperature hovered above freezing making conditions underfoot far from ideal. It was a very good turnout, some 23 people of whom 20 competed.

We assembled at the start awaiting the starter, but were held back for a short while to accommodate the latecomers.


Pre-run pose

(Photo by D. Winterbone)

A photo was taken and then Ridings got us under orders and set us off. The reaction from the runners was almost instantaneous, but the front runners were off at a canter and the rest followed up the hill over the canal bridge and up into Lyme Park.

Doggie Burston and Old Markham had set off earlier to scatter sawdust to indicate the direction we should go in, but for most it was a familiar route, albeit with a couple of new wrinkles.

As we entered the Park, past a recently opened shop, we headed off across the fields but bypassed the usual run through the sharp gully, presumably due to the trees that had been planted in the way. At this point I could see the frontrunners silhouetted against the skyline and making fast progress. A line of lesser lights stretched back, and there were a few behind me.


Approaching the Trail-layers

Now it was down to a few groups competing against each other. In twos or threes we struggled to get the upper hand as we progressed round the course. A brief handshake as we passed the trail layers before entering the woods with the warning of ice at the exit ringing in our ears. It was slippy, but nearly all of us negotiated it safely.

We were headed home, each of us trying to pull on the runner ahead and afraid to look over our shoulder in case we saw someone catching up. The park was relatively quiet but occasionally we got encouragement from walkers as were struggled on. At last the top of the final track and the run down to the finish. The lucky ones had won, or lost, their individual battles but some had to fight to the end.

There was a small group still at the finish when I arrived, and we quickly set off for the shower. This was done in batches, with the water getting cooler with each batch. Some of us went back to the finish to welcome back the final competitors whilst others took shelter in the warmth of the pub. Eventually all got back, including the trail layers and we headed for the pub.

Of course the early start meant we were in the pub pretty early. The beer was good and we could relax and recover and tell each other why it all went right/wrong. And compare moustaches.


The food arrived in good time. Turkey, stuffing and trimmings followed by Christmas pud. But then it was time for the awards.


Silence fell and Whitworth announced the winner. Colin Goulder had raced round and pipped Shotgun for the title of Champion. President Park handed over the trophy and glassware.


The handicap was won by Wells, thanks to the generosity of the handicapping committee. President Park again did the duty.


Finally Biker Eastwood was declared to have produced the best moustache, with Old Markham runner up. They both received a bottle of something they kept to themselves. A goodly sum was raised for the charity.

A cheery group left in ones and twos, some headed home to shave and others to celebrate/commiserate with their mates.

More photographs of this momentous day:










Saturday, 4 November 2017

A Right Royal Run .

Trotting around Tockholes

The day before Bonfire Night saw the Club’s annual gathering at the very fine Royal Arms at Tockholes near Darwen where 17(?) members met for a run over some of the lumpier bits of the West Pennine Moors.

Photo by Joe Park

(Photo: Hon Prez Park)

Rick Ridings and I set off from the pub at 11am to lay a sawdust & shredded paper trail along a route that had been (mostly) recced the previous day with another Rick – the Long Suffering one.


On the recce: Long Suffering Rick is NOT a fairy

We trotted north(ish) via the familiarly bovine excrement-perfumed Ryal Fold, splodging across fields to pick up The Witton Bloody Weavers Way….and some mud. Hours of persistent heavy rain the previous night had ensured we we would enjoy some rather squelchy ground.

Photo by John Wilson

Old Markham leading Eastwood and the Hon Sec through the fragrant Ryal Fold

(Photo: J. Wilson)

It was dry when we recced it. Honest.

Photo 4 by Ian Brown


(Photo: Ian Brown)

It was a slimy cobbled descent to Earnshaw Reservoir dam, although the dam-top path offered temporary respite from the slutch. The sun shone intermittently and was only a bit chilly.


Earnshaw Reservoir, the Jubilee Tower on the skyline.

Photo 1 from Ian Brown

Early starters Goulder & Lesser Ruddock

(Photo: Ian Brown)

A mix of uphill concrete tracks, diverted and concessionary paths led us south, up the eastern side of Darwen Hill and Darwen Moor, tantalisingly close to the Jubilee Tower.

Photo 3 by John Wilson

Jubilee Tower. So near yet so far.

(Photo: J Wilson)

Photo 3 by Ian Brown

(Photo: Ian Brown)

The route so far had been generally runnable…..well some bits were generally runnable, the other bits were generally, er, interesting. And a bit wet.

Dramatic clouds scudded overhead whilst a couple of light showers kept the puddles and fetid bogs up to Lancashire’s usual high standard.


A footpath…or a stream


Rick Ridings at rest

The descent from Darwen Moor led us to a short section of uphill tarmac at Duckshaw Brook. This short dry bit provided only fleeting relief from the tough terrain of the previous couple of miles before once again returning us to the rough ground of the Witton Bloody Weavers Way. For a few hundred yards anyway.

Photo 6 by John Wilson

Not So Fast Taylor going across the rough bit of path

(Photo: J Wilson)

Then the route became slightly more difficulter (that’s Timperley dialect is that) as we left the Witton Bloody Weavers Way. Turning right (SW) at a rotted signpost (the rot was probably down to the gound being slightly more moist than the surrounding terrain) we trotted cheerily and muddily across an incredibly lumpy footpath that was quite unrunnable in parts. Well actually it was completely unrunnably along quite a lot of it’s length. That length seemed to go on for miles but in reality it was less than a mile.

Photo 7 by John Wilson

There’s a path there – somewhere

(Photo: J. Wilson)

The path was mostly obscured by waist-high rushes and sedge grasses, consequently some runners disappeared into hidden holes in the ground – one may still yet be lost, there was definitely one runner missing when we sat down to dinner later. 

Photo 6 by Ian Brown

Winter Hill

(Photo: Ian Brown)

The wind was getting up on this exposed section and care had to be taken laying trail. It wouldn’t do for the runners to lose trail and go astray….they might end up getting back too late to enjoy the delights of the tin bath. Worse still, they might miss their tea.

Photo 5 by John Wilson   Wells & Eastwood relieved to be back on the DWWW

(Photo: J. Wilson)

Suitably soaked, muddied and bruised we rejoined that Damned Witton Weavers Way – at least the ground became more runnable. Wislon J had tumbled a grand total of five times on the rough section – surely a Club record. There are rumours that he’s going to receive the award of the Club’s Official Fell Fall Runner.

We were now on the return leg although it would be a while before Darwen’s Jublilee Tower would become visible.

Photo 8 by John Wilson

Only slight dampness on the WBWW

(Photo: J. Wilson)

What DID become visible were two of the Club’s runners coming up behind us. They were still a good distance away but they were moving quickly – obviously Fast Pack Runners. Rick and I, er, picked up speed to keep ahead of them for as long as we could. It’s frowned upon for Hounds to catch the Hares. Apart from anything else, the Hounds wouldn’t be able to follow the trail – because, as Trail Layers, we Hares hadn’t completed laying the trail.

Photo 9 by John Wilson

On final approach to Jubilee Tower

(Photo: J. Wilson)

We managed to keep ahead of the Fast Pack until they caught us up on Darwen Moor, just to the south of the Jubilee Tower. It turned out that the fast guys, Goulder and Lesser Ruddock, had set out at 1pm – rather earlier than even the Slow Pack. In fairness to them they both had to beat a hasty retreat after the run – not even stopping for dinner.

The route zig-zagged a little, now on more familiar ground. The Tower came into full view and it was a quite straight-forward matter of following clearly marked paths across the heather moorland.

More runners, including the Hon Prez, hove into view. They knew the route back down to the pub so after pleasanties were exchanged they continued their way back to the warmth and comfort of the Royal Arms.

At Jubilee Tower we littered our way south-westish for half a mile or so on a very good and flat path. The views over Sunnyhurst Hey Reservoir out to Blackburn and Preston were excellent – on a clearer day you would be able to see THE tower, the one at Blackpool.

Then it began to rain, fortunately it didn’t last long. A steep and rocky descent was the last of the difficulties for the runners, in the wet it was a bit hairy. All survived and were back at the pub by around 4pm – in good time for tea.

Photo 10 by John Wilson

Doggy Burston at the finish

(Photo: J. Wilson)

The pub, as always, really looked after us and made us very welcome. We were served with really excellent food: a very tasty lamb hotpot followed by apple crumble and custard. The beer, as ever, was superb.


The Apple Crumble Demolition Squad in action

Photo 1 by John Wilson

The Royal at Tockholes.

(Photo: J Wilson)

The Royal is probably my favourite pub – anywhere. I feel very fortunate being able to lay trail from here every year. It’s a great venue set in really rugged running country.

Thanks to Long Suffering Rick for helping with the recce of the route, and to Rick Ridings for letting me have one of his bananas – and helping to lay trail so very well. Hardly anyone got really lost – and that can’t be bad. 

Tally-Ho Tockholes 2017

Tally-ho Tockholes 2017 profile

8.5 miles and 1300ft of ascent and wetness

More photographs are here

Most of the photographs were by Ian Brown or John Wislon Wilson.

Other photographs were taken by me using my old but very weatherproof Olympus mju410. This camera is okay but doesn’t perform at all well in anything like low light. It also takes a long time to boot-up from ‘switch-on’  - especially when the memory card has a couple of hundred images stored on it.

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Frodsham Frolics Saturday 9th Sept 2017

The first trail of the season

The Prez wasn’t quite firing on all four so I volunteered, along with Intercontinental Wells, to litter around 8 miles of Cheshire countryside.

At 10.30am on the dot we left Forest Hills, armed with bags of sawdust and strips of paper….at 10.50am.

Joe’s route took us left out of Forest Hills and down hill to pick up the path that we followed south, skirting the eastern side of Beacon Hill. The sun shone and the birdies sang….but the clouds looked ominously April-like.

Sure enough, some very heavy rain-showers were encountered – but we weren’t downhearted much at all. Well not very much.

Note to self: Bring (old) weatherproof camera in future.

A sharp turn to the east took us by Crow Mere and then downhill to the B5152 close to Newton Hall. By this stage of the game both Intercontinental Wells and I though we had a pretty good idea where the Hon Prez was going to take us. We were almost right.

Then we got wet. Very wet actually. The rain shower, albeit only lasting a few minutes, was very heavy.

There followed a couple of miles of wet and nominally downhill ziggery & zaggery, some of which coincided with the North Cheshire Way.


At the Weaver Navigation we trotted in a sort of NNW direction, scattering a mixture of sawdust and the smallest of strips of paper for the runners to follow. We followed the muddy path alongside the Weaver Navigation and the Frodsham Cut as far as Frodsham Lock where we turned west for about 546 yards 500 metres.

Apples (windfalls) and blackberries were collected around here. They made a very fine apple & blackberry crumble* the next day.


Turning south and gently uphill along a section of Eddisbury Way we littered our way through Bradley, and then on the North Cheshire Way, back to cross the B5152, approximately 546 yards NW of where we crossed it earlier. Blue sky had appeared and it was quite warm.


This area must be well populated with giant moles. Or mayber badgers.

More uphill followed, this time back to Beacon Hill. A short section of the return route coincided with the outward section – we had to be careful not to confuse the runners (some are easily confused) so trail had to be littered carefully. I think we succeeded.

A final bit of an uphill tug on tarmac took us back to Forest Hills where coffee and butties were enjoyed (well I enjoyed mine).

Runners arrived back in dribs and drabs – I think there may have been a couple of packs out:


Early Taylor


Ding Dong, smiling. Always smiling


Goulder cruising in, well ahead of the main pack

Nobody complained, not even about the nettles, so I reckon Joe did a good job with his route.

A good meal was enjoyed by all, shame about the beer but there you go.

Where we went, anti-clockwise:


7.6 miles with around 820ft of ascent. And descent. It was decent.

Thanks to Joe for dreaming up the route, and to Joe and Intercontinental Wells for their excellent company on the trail-laying expedition.

* The Apple & Blackberry crumble….well the remnants of it:


Friday, 15 September 2017

Trotting around North Cheshire, Sat 29th April 2017

Point-to-Point 2017

I was all a bit last minute, but I volunteered to help plotting a little running route, the Hartley Folly, the Cheshire Hare & Hounds Tally-Ho! end of season run – always a bit longer than the Club’s regular fortnightly runs.

Tim, the original plotter had been inundated with so much work (the sort of work that people go out to) and family stuff that he was rendered unable to get stuck in and sort the job.

I had the following parameters to work within:

Start point: The Griffin in Bowdon (a rather posh part of already posh Altrincham)

Finish point: The Swan with Two Nicks, Little Bollington (a lovely pub in a lovely hamlet)….around 1.5 miles from the start

The route should be a long(ish) one – and definitely be predominantly cross-country.

There must be a tea stop.

If you’ve been keeping up and not fallen asleep (yet) you’ll have noticed that the 1.5 miles between the start and inish doesn’t constitute ‘long’. Or even ‘long-ish’.

Tim had come up with good start and finish points, so that was something I didn’t need to worry about – it was just the bit in between.

After much studying of maps and loads of recces I settled on a pleasant 19 mile route that took in some interesting bits of local countryside.

The recces, and there really were many, were carried out with the invaluable assistance of Mssrs Coatsworth, Banfield and Norman, plus the Ms Fairley who provided much in the way of (constructive?) criticisim. Atcherly, having those extra pairs of eyes proved invaluable in tweeking the route and it’s description – thanks guys….and gurl.

Anyroadup, the route wasn’t particularly original, more a tweek of a route I’d walked / run in the past.

19 miles of clockwisery:

Tally-Ho Hartley Folly 2017 full map Rev4

On the day itself I set out alone but armed with a bag of sawdust to mark bits of the trail where runners could have lost the intended route. I was probably the first to start – I wanted the extra time to drop sawdust where I thought it might be needed. And I’m a bit on the slow side. Rather a lot on the slow side actually.

The route left Bowdon and so did I, initially on quiet suburban roads and paths before heading down to follow the River Bollin upstream. The river passes the back gardens of some enormously expensive and expansive houses on one side and the uber-posh Hale Golf club on t’other. Apparently the odd famous footballer / manager can often be seen walking their doggies on the river bank. I wouldn’t know an odd famous footballer or a manager if they bit me.


I dropped a few clumps of sawdust along the way, nothing conspicuous, but enough that runners following me would spot the stuff.

The weather was ideal for trotting along, dry and bright but not too warm – a hot day wouldn’t do at all for a 19 miler, however slow I was.


It was still early in the year so whilst undergrowth was quite verdant, the trees were lagging behind – few were in full leaf.



The River Bollin close to Sunbank Wood

My original route was to take me through Castle Mill but the previously good footpath had been illegally diverted through a mud-bath that really was quite impassable. The obnoxious land owner has been reported to the local authority who are taking action against her.


Castle Mill’s mud-bath …and electric fence. Photo taken on a recce.

My alternative route bypassed the quagmire and entailed passing our local trig-point, looking a bit forlorn. I have a plan to brighten it up….


The rather sad trig point at SJ796837 marking the dizzying altitude of 60m ASL

The sound of aircraft now became noticeable, I was approaching the end of one of Manchester Airport’s runways.

The River Bollin proved a bit of a problem to the contractors charged with extending the airport with the addition of Runway 2. The problem was solved by culverting the river under the new runway:


Doggy walkers were walking their doggies and birdies were tweeting in the hedgerows, it was only the occasional roar of aircraft taking off that spoiled an otherwise very pleasant trot alongside Runway 2


There was just a bit of tarmac beyond the airport (sorry guys, even the best trails often have SOME tarmac!) but the trail was soon back on field paths that skirted the north side of Mobberley. It was on this section that the first runners caught me up (and passed me…of course), I was beginning to wonder if anybody had turned out to follow trail.


Here they come…


….and there they go

Numbers weren’t great on the day. Excuses for absence were many and vairied, Hon Sec had the best one – he’d broken his arm whilst on the Lakes Weekend trail run.


Approaching the tea stop

Whatever, it was good to catch up with Tim & Rob at the tea stop:


Tim’s wife and family had provided a very splendid spread for us, it was easy to eat and drink too much – Not A Good Thing To Do when there’s still another 9 – 10 miles to run.

As we guzzled and slurped our way through the feast more runners appeared:



Fast Taylor – going remarkably fast considering he was nursing an injury


Hon Prez Park….say no more

Dragging ourselves away from the tea stop we plodded off along more tarmac to enter Tatton Park at it’s southern, pedestrian only, entrance. The trail now changed direction, turn north on the eastern shore of Tatton Mere. The run through the park was very easy running, we were treated to a toilet stop and a herd of curious onlookers.although they weren’t watching us at the toilet stop.Probably.


The next point of note was the No 1 Parachute Training School monument in the park. Ringway Airport (now Manchester Airport) was the site of the training school and parts of Tatton Park were used as a landing zone. Tatton Mere was used to practice water-landings.



Poseurs at the monument, L>R: Mssrs Taylor, Park, Bell, Jenkinson, Riley & me

Turning west(ish) towards Tatton Hall, Hon Prez Park was delighted to see that we’d arranged for his own personalised route out of the park:


More northness followed, this time to Rostherne, along a church path – reputed to be the path used by the Tatton Estate workers to get to St Mary’s Church at Rostherne.


Taken on one of the recces: Martin at Rostherne Village Water Pump




The church grave yard had some interesting, er, features 

A concessionary footpath, not marked on the OS map, takes you nicely past the church and allows views over Rostherne Mere:


Rostherne Mere

In the two weeks leading up to the run one of the field footpaths had seen a significant diversion to allow for ploughing. This lengthened the route – but just two days before the run the diverted path had been re-instated and all was well.


More tarmac followed, although it was less than a mile and along very quiet lanes before once again getting onto the (slightly) rough stuff. The ground was generally quite dry although the odd bit of wetness muddied the legs – giving just a bit of credibility to our cross-country run.

Once over the M56 on the footbridge to the east of the Lymm roundabout we were on the home leg. We once again met up with the River Bollin, now on the outskirts of Bowdon….home to the Club’s esteemed legal advisor.


River Bollin bailiff’s shed near Bowdon

We ran west along the north side of the river, passing the site of the Motte & Bailey castle at Watch Hill. It’s well worth watching this YouTube video.


Taking our lives in our hands we crossed the very busy A56 and continued to follow the River Bollin along another concessionary path to the Swan with Two Nicks and the end of the run.

I took about 5 1/2 hours to complete, I was quite happy with that considering I’d spent around half an hour at the tea stop and spent additional time laying trail.

The pub was unable to provide bathing facilities – or even a room to change in. The Club’s tin bath was once again pressed into service in the pub car park. Pretty Quick Riley opted to cool his legs off with the pub’s hose pipe before diving into the bath. At least that what he said he was doing:


Tim & Co had arranged for a gazebo to preserve the dignity of the runners and to spare the blushes of the pub’s customers.


Our luxurious bathing facilities

An excellent nosh followed. Runners, helpers, guests and partners enjoyed a fine meal supplemented by beers from the Dunham Brewery. And I wasn’t driving.

Thanks to all who helped with recces and planning the route, in particular Tim, Andy, Martin and Joules. Your inputs really were invaluable.

Thanks also to Tim’s family who fed and watered us so very well, to everyone who ran the route – and to The Club for letting me plan the route.